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Wheel always have Paris

Dubbed the world’s most romantic metro system, the Paris Metro has turned to an unromantic factory in Market Harborough to keep its passengers moving for the next three years.

RATP, operator of the Metropolitan, has signed a deal to buy wheels for its escalators from Texane in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. Over the next three years, Texane will supply around 6,000 polyurethane wheels to the RATP group.

It’s a major step forward for the manufacturer, whose secret system binds solid polyurethane tyres to aluminium or iron wheels so strongly that they last for years even under heavy strain – a crucial selling point for busy mass transit systems that can’t afford downtime.

Says managing director Arnab Dutt, ‘Up to now, we were supplying RATP on an ad hoc basis but this contract gives us security that the business will continue, and we see it as a vote of confidence in the robustness of our product.’

Unlike London, Paris’s subway is shallow at around 25 feet so most of the wheels will be used on travelators, rather than escalators. Running up to half a kilometre in length, these moving walkways are a crucial part of the network, connecting many of its 301 stations and platforms beneath the busy Parisian streets.

Although predominantly flat, some of the Metro’s travelators cover slight inclines, putting extra strain on the wheels. The Metro’s original art nouveau entrances are iconic symbols of romantic Paris. Dating from 1900, more than 80 survive – three of them featuring elaborate glass canopies – while the rest have a cast-iron balustrade, featuring plant motifs, and orange globes.

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